UK Prime Minister David Cameron has justified the recently exposed secret deal with Saudi Arabia to allow both nations to be elected to the UN Human Rights Council, saying the relationship was due to national security.
Cameron squirmed during a tough interview with Channel 4 News’ Jon Snow, who repeatedly pressed the politician for an answer. As Saudi Arabia prepares to behead and crucify Ali Mohammed al-Nimr for taking part in pro-democracy demonstrations, Mr Snow said the deal sounded “a bit squalid for one of the most human rights abusing regimes on earth.”
Remarking that the government opposes the death penalty “anywhere and everywhere in all our international contacts” the prime minister said he would personally raise the issue of the planned execution, but only if Saudi Arabia provided an opportunity.
Jon Snow asked the Conservative leader three times why the government made the Human Rights Council deal with Saudi Arabia when they “completely disagreed with them over punishment routines.”
“We have a relationship with Saudi Arabia and if you want to know why I’ll tell you why. We receive from them important intelligence and security information that keeps us safe… The reason we have the relationship is our own national security.”
Ali al-Nimr was sentenced to death on 27 May 2014 for offences that included taking part in demonstrations against the government, attacking the security forces, possessing a machine-gun and armed robbery when he was 17 years old. The court seems to have based its decision on “confessions” which Ali al-Nimr has said were extracted under torture and other ill-treatment and has refused to look into this allegation.
Amnesty – Stop Execution of Ali al-Nimr Petition
A press release from the Saudi Arabian embassy in the UK today stated that “the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia rejects any form of interference in its internal affairs”, tagging the post on Twitter using Ali Mohammed al-Nimr’s name as the hashtag.
Yesterday a Saudi blogger jailed for “insulting Islam” won the Pen Pinter Prize for free speech. Raif Badawi is currently serving a ten year prison sentence in Saudi Arabia and is to receive one thousand lashes. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales accepted the award on Mr Badawi’s behalf and called on the UK government to “show moral leadership” and call for his release.
Saudi Arabia offered condolences to the families of victims of the attacks in Paris, describing them as “cowardly” and saying the terrorist acts are something Islam and other religions reject. Meanwhile, back in Saudi Arabia, blogger Raif Badawi was given the first fifty lashes of a sentence for “insulting Islam”. Badawi founded a liberal blog and criticised powerful conservative clerics. It was shut down and he was sentenced to ten years in jail, one thousand lashes and fined over €225,000.
At the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the prime minister made another scathing attack on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, accusing him of a “Britain-hating ideology”. Cameron, who was recently alleged to have put his genitals in a dead pig’s mouth during a university ritual, again accused Corbyn of being a threat to national security, saying “We cannot let that man inflict his security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology on the country we love.” A spokesperson for the Labour leader said that the outburst showed that Cameron was “rattled” by the Labour party.